It’s a dog eat dog world out there (note: I did not write “doggy-dog world.” because: 1. That is not the saying. 2. Were it the saying, it would make no sense. 3. Never say or write”doggy-dog world.” It’ll make you sound stupid to those who know better. 4. Those who don’t know better are a waste of your time. Don’t hang out with them–good potential friend litmus test)
Anyone who travels from A to B these days is bound to run across any or all of the above titled, even during the shortest of commutes. If you are driving a vehicle, you curse the incompetency of pedestrians, bicyclists, skateboarders etc. If you are walking, you curse moron-itude of drivers, cyclists, skateboarders, people with baby carriages etc. Skateboarders hate everyone, including other skateboarders. It has become a Me v. the-Rest-of-the-Traveling-World when going anywhere. The rules of the road both written and born through tacit consent were created to protect us from, well, ourselves. However, it has become apparent that few people remember or care what they are. Now we embrace the credo “whichever mode I am traveling has right-of-way over anyone else.” Not so fast, Jethro. Here is how traveling modes should be prioritized and executed.
Roads–These are for car, bicycles, motorcycles and, in rural areas, pedestrians. Follow these simple rules:
Smallest and lightest things are, naturally, the most vulnerable while traveling–make way for them, ducklings. When driving a car, stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, allow bicycles to share the road with you, remember that motorcycles and motor scooters can stop on a dime, you can’t, give them plenty of room when following.
Cars-these are the fastest, heaviest and most numerous things on the road. Follow traffic laws, stay in your lane, signal when turning or changing lanes (this means YOU people of Massachusetts). Stop for people in crosswalks, give motorcycles some room and be nice to the cyclists.
Tips for car trips: just because you’re late doesn’t mean that everyone else is in your way; honking rarely helps–you look and sound stupid; yes, you are in a metal box but remember, it has windows, we can see still you when you pick your nose, teeth, smoke a joint or sing along; people in the rotary have the right of way.
Pedestrians-Stay on the sidewalks or, if there is no sidewalk on which travel, walk against traffic. Against traffic. It is a basic survival technique; you want to see what is bigger, faster and traveling closest to you. If you turn your back to it, it could kill you. Drivers feel more comfortable when you are facing the cars too. Remember: if no sidewalk, face your enemies.
Also, walkers, when crossing the road, use the crosswalk. Don’t cross five feet down the road from a crosswalk, haul your carcass up the road a few steps and cross there. I will stop for you, I promise. I will not stop for pedestrians not using them, in fact, I speed up a bit (yes, even for people pushing strollers.)
Bicycles-Travel on the road and go with traffic. Since bikes are fast and nimble enough, you go with the flow. Also, follow the traffic rules: stop at red lights, signal when you are turning and, when with a group, travel single file (you’re not in the Tour de France, fat-ass, get in line and stay in line.) When you don’t follow the rules of the road it really pisses drivers off (you taint all cyclists); you’re more apt to get a car door opening in front of you or have cars, not so subtly, creep into the bicycle lane. Is that unfair? Yes, but, screw you, cars are bigger. Follow the rules.
Also, bicycles belong on the road. Not on sidewalks. Not on sidewalks. If you are confused, the hint is in the word itself, sideWALK. Not sideride, sidepedal or sidecoast, sideWALK. One walks there. There isn’t enough room for you to ride your bicycle on the sidewalk. If you must use the sidewalk to get to a bike path or need to cross the road to get to another bike lane then you walk the bike on the sidewalk. For those bicyclists that use the sidewalk because the road is scary with all those cars and SUVs there; you’re right, it is scary. If this scares you, clearly you’re too much of a pussy to be on a bike. Sell the bike and walk with the rest of us. (P.S. To those of you who dress in all the “right” body-hugging bike gear and still ride on the sidewalk, you’re an embarrassment to biking and a pussy. Enjoy your day.)
Skateboarders-I know, I know. You guys are hassled constantly and bear the brunt of peoples rage against youth. And skateboarding does look like fun but, frankly, you scare the crap out of me. Not because I think you’re scary but because you so seldom look like you’re in control of the board or your body. Keep the skateboards in the park and off the sidewalks and roads. I have almost killed enough of you with my car that I have lost at least five years of my life. Stop it.
Scooters and motorcycles-follow the same traffic rules as cars and bikes, single file and signal turns. You’re less apt to get squished by something heavier. (Side note: my favorite motorcycle outfit is jean shorts, no shirt and a helmet. Buddy, if you have to dump that bike the road-rash alone will make you wish that you hadn’t been wearing a helmet. And, you look really, really stupid. Also, you’re not nearly in as good shape as you think you are. Really.)
Baby carriages-1. Congratulations! You’re a Mom, Dad, Nanny, Aunt, Uncle, Grandparent, whatever. 2. Unless you are pushing the child of a relative or a friend of mine, I could care less about your kid. Seriously. No, really. Having a carriage in front of you does not give you license to: walk in the middle of the sidewalk, block the entire sidewalk with the carriage when you want to look in a store window, or stop suddenly then look agitated when someone bumps into you or the carriage as a result of any or all of the above listed offenses. Keep your kid and the carriage, to yourself.
Also, pram pushers, I have noticed and interesting trend over the last few years. When traveling on sidewalks and wishing to cross the road, people with baby carriages tend to stand, in relative safety, with their toes on the edge of the road/sidewalk while having the carriage in front of them in the road. I’m sorry, do you hate your child? Is it not really your kid? Do you think people will stop for the carriage out of the kindness of their hearts? Are you being passive-aggressive? “Oh I guess I’ll just stand here and HOPE that someone will stop for me a Junior here. Little Jr…right here…in the road.” Remember, there are a lot of people in the world, quite a few of them are like me. To reiterate, “I could care less about your kid. Seriously. No, really.” When I see a pram in the road with the parent safely on the sidewalk I visualize a giant target on the side of that carriage. “20 points.” I think to myself, “30 if I can break the parent’s arm too.” Get the carriage out of the road!!!
Now, since so few people actually follow all the rules, I suggest that we pass a few new laws.
1. If a pedestrian is crossing the road outside of a crosswalk and a crosswalk is within 75 yards of said pedestrian, you can hit him/her with your car provided that you didn’t have to speed up to do so.
2. If you are a pedestrian trying to cross in a crosswalk and a car doesn’t stop for you, you may shoot out the rear window of said automobile provided that you were at least 2 yards into the crosswalk and didn’t just jump out in order to shoot out said window.
3. If you are a pedestrian trying to cross in a crosswalk and a car semi-stops but edges by you in the crosswalk, you may key the car as it passes.
4. If you are a bicyclist, following the rules of the road, and a car starts edging over too close to you, you may key the car door.
5. If you are a car driver and a bicyclist is weaving in and out of traffic and not following the rules of the road, you may suddenly open your car door.
6. If you are a pedestrian on the sidewalk and someone rides up next to you on a bicycle, you may push him or her over if coming up behind you, or clothesline him/her if coming toward you.
7. If someone has a baby carriage out in the road while s/he is safe on the sidewalk, hit the carriage. HARD. (30 points of you break the adult’s arm). Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s rough on the baby and it’s not the kids fault. To that I say one thing–Darwin.
With those 7 simple laws, many of these problems with stop within a week. All it takes is a few pedestrians splattered over a hood and a couple of blown out rear windows to get everyone to snap-to and start respecting each other on the road.